“The self-same atoms which, chaotically dispersed, made the nebula, now, jammed and temporarily caught in peculiar positions, form our brains; and the ‘evolution’ of brains, if understood, would be simply the account of how the atoms came to be so caught and jammed.” -William James

Summer is coming. No, not to Westeros, but to your night skies, and with it, views of the galactic plane and even the galactic center, which holds more than a few surprises inside. In particular, it contains the most famous nebula in the entire night sky: the Eagle Nebula.

Image credit: T.A.Rector (NRAO/AUI/NSF and NOAO/AURA/NSF) and B.A.Wolpa (AURA/NSF), NOAO.

Image credit: T.A.Rector (NRAO/AUI/NSF and NOAO/AURA/NSF) and B.A.Wolpa (AURA/NSF), NOAO.

But the Eagle itself is not so special as it is representative of a class of objects — star-forming nebulae — that hold the key to understanding the origins of all the stars in all the galaxies in all the Universe, including our own. But the story begins from an unexpected place: a humble cloud of neutral gas.

Image credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

Image credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

Go read the whole thing here.

Comments

  1. #1 shannon
    May 2, 2014

    It is astonishing to see our galactic center in such beautiful form. It puzzles me not knowing what neutral gas consists of. What are the main elements that can be found in neutral gas? When can we see the Eagle Nebula?

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